When your car is damaged by collision, vandalism, theft, or fire, you may need to decide where to take it for repairs. Some insurance companies maintain lists of “preferred” auto body repair shops, which the insurance company might recommend the consumer use. Remember, you have the choice of whether to use an insurance company’s preferred shop.
Auto insurance regulations contain specific requirements that car insurance companies follow when they direct a consumer to a company recommended repair shop. In California for example, the insurer may not require that a car be repaired at a specific repair shop, or direct, suggest, or recommend that an automobile be repaired at a specific repair shop, unless such referral is expressly requested by you. California also regulates that an insurer cannot require you to travel an unreasonable distance either to inspect a replacement automobile, to conduct an inspection of the vehicle, to obtain a repair estimate or to have the automobile repaired at a specific repair shop.
What Are the Types of Repair Agreements?
It is important to choose which auto insurance repair agreement and policy best fits your needs. The three main types you can buy, according to The California Department of Insurance the different obligations for each agreement are:
- Vehicle service contract provider, in which requires a special type of company.
- Dealer-obligor contracts, in which the dealer sells cars, motorcycles or boats.
- Mechanical Breakdown Insurance, similar to a car warranty.
Can I Count on The Quality of Auto Repairs?
A repair shop is generally not required by law to guarantee its repair work, but many shops do guarantee some of the repairs.
You should check with the repair shop to determine exactly what the shop will and will not guarantee. It is important to note the following:
- If a repair shop does guarantee the repairs, it may be in writing.
- If your car is repaired in a shop recommended by the insurance company, the insurance company may warrant that the repairs are done in a quality manner.
- If the recommended repair shop refuses to correct a repair problem, you may consider contacting your insurance company for assistance. If the insurance company does not resolve the repair problem, you may contact your state’s department of insurance.
How Much Do Auto Repairs Typically Cost?
Generally, insurance companies must provide you with a copy of an estimate to repair the automobile. In cases where the body shop estimate or the actual repair costs exceed the amount the insurance company is willing to pay, you may be required to pay the difference.
Not only that, but there are other variables that may play into the final expense like the type of car and the miles on the car at the time of repair. If you feel the difference is the responsibility of the insurance company, you should try to resolve this dispute with the insurance company. Again, if your insurance company does not resolve the problem, you should contact your state’s department of insurance for help.
What Are After-Market Parts?
An auto repair may include replacement of damaged parts with after-market parts. After-market parts are not made by the original manufacturer. They may be equal, better, or worse in quality than original equipment manufacturer parts. Different states place different insurance regulations on the specific requirements on insurance companies when recommending that a consumer have the damaged vehicle repaired using after-market parts.
You should carefully check your repair invoice to ensure that the auto body shop has identified each auto part replaced as being used, reconditioned, rebuilt, an original equipment manufacturer part, or an after-market part. If the repair estimate or invoice does not identify the type of part used, you may want to contact your state’s department of auto repair, or department of insurance.
- Get to Automobile Service Contracts, Extended Warranties and Other Repair Agreements, California Department of Insurance.